Quentin Gause has a lot to prove this week, and he'll be carrying a big chip on his shoulder when he does it. Gause, a linebacker from Rutgers, was not invited to the NFL Combine a few weeks ago. His football aspirations now ride on his performance at his school's Pro day, which takes place today. Instead of being upset, he's using the snub as fuel for his fire.
"I know what I have to do," Gause told NJ.com late last week. "You know that thing that tells you if you get that opportunity, nobody is going to take it away from you? That's the mindset I have right now."
Dig into Gause's bio and you'll see he's the type of guy who's often underestimated but rarely outperformed. Here are 10 reasons you should be rooting for him to catch the attention of your NFL team's general manager.
First of all, the guy can play
Just watch his highlight video.
At least watch the part at 1:47 when he crushes a Michigan ballcarrier in the backfield. That's a can't-miss. But if you stick around to view the rest of the footage, you'll see he has plenty of speed to the outside and a nose for turnovers.
His stats are impressive too
At 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds, Gause is a bit undersized, but he doesn't play like it. He started the past two seasons for Rutgers, racking up 168 tackles. Last season, he led the Scarlet Knights with 12 tackles for losses.
He has the respect of his coaches, teammates and school
Gause was a team captain last season as a fifth-year senior. He also earned another distinction from Rutgers for demonstrating "courage, belief, strength and inspiration to all."
Apparently opponents thought he was a good guy, too
Gause received a 2015 Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, which—you guessed it—recognizes a player who demonstrates positive sportsmanship.
What people really talk about is what Gause does off the playing field
He has a relentless work ethic, for one. Need proof? Re-watch his workout in the video (produced by Justin Dolan of Dolan Creative) at the top of this article.
He overcame a learning disability
The issue showed up when Gause was in kindergarten. But he refused to let it hold him back. "That really made me hungry," Gause said of his diagnosis. "I had a hunger inside to just prove people wrong."
Actually, 'overcame' is an understatement. He blew the thing up.
Gause carried a 3.2 GPA while majoring in Journalism and Media Studies. He twice earned Academic All-Conference awards.
He's a finisher too
Finally I got it Phase 3 complete
Phase 2:Bishop Kearney H.S
Phase 3:Rutgers University
Phase 4: TBC pic.twitter.com/U6TeiQizTi
— Quentin Gause (@quentingause) February 7, 2016
He's relentlessly positive
"I remember I was in this smaller class in middle school, and somebody said they don't know what they're going to do with their lives, they don't care, why am I here, why am I in school?" Gause told NJ.com. "And I yelled out, 'No, you will do something with your life! You will be successful if you continue to stay focused!'"
But he's not afraid to call people out
"We give Quentin a lot of flack because he is a guy who is always out there smiling and ready to say things when something needs to be said, even when we don't want to hear it," redshirt junior defensive lineman Julian Pinnix-Odrick told the Asbury Park Press. "He gets a lot of flack for that, but you can't do nothing but admire and respect it."
In short, Gause is the type of player whose character is such that any coach (or fan) would want him on their team. How could you not root for the guy? But getting into the NFL is largely about measurables: how high you can jump, how fast you can cover a distance you'll rarely run on the field, how big or small are your hands?
Of course, you can't measure heart. And there's a long history of highly motivated athletes who were relatively unheralded coming out of school who became big-time players in the league: Jared Allen from Idaho State University; Marques Colston from Hofstra; and London Fletcher from Division III John Carroll University. With any luck, Gause will be the next great underdog to blindside the NFL.
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